My name is Nkiru. I was just seven when Papa started beating Mama. Every night, he would watch those violent movies over and over again like he was learning new styles to practice on her. After he was done, he’d head to Mama’s room and I would hear her scream. She’d scream so bad begging for help that merely returned to her as echoes.
With my tiny hands, I’d bang the door. I’d plead to Papa to open but he wouldn’t answer until he was done. He’d look at me with his hands adjusting his trousers and say “silly girl, one day, I might hit you with one of these too.”
I’d look at Mama’s naked body; the marks on her back like Papa had beaten her with the iron part of his belt, the sniffing of tears and how much she was avoiding me seeing her cry. . . Papa had made love to her tireless even after beating her.
For two years, every night, Mama’s shouts would send chills down my spine. I’d wrap my tiny arms around her hoping it would give her some sort of relief as I kept on wondering why she never left but I never got a response.
Mama died one of those nights.
All too often women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget. In actuality, when we love rightly we know that the healthy, loving response to cruelty and abuse is putting ourselves out of harm’s way. ~ Bell Hooks